THE BIRDS AND THE BEES

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Submitted Date 12/10/2019
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POV: I'm your mother and you're on the verge of 15 years of age. I've cornered you in your disheveled bedroom. You're uncomfortable, I'm uncomfortable but the topic has been avoided for too long. I've caught you on the internet and I've seen your browser history. I know you're curious. I just want to provide an appropriate outlet, make resources available to you and make sure you know that what you're feeling, is natural. I invite you to sit with me and manage a casual calm tone as I approach this conversation delicately. I know its embarrassing, and I know I have to choose my words carefully because what I say can reshape and establish your ideals. I can push too far, and risk you shutting me out. I can exaggerate that "it's not a big deal" and risk that phrase being the one that sticks. I have to cram as much information as I can in as little time as possible because I know — you knowww, and you don't want to talk about it.

Let's talk about the birds and the bees. Before you groan in frustration and kick me out of your room, let me stress that this important. The birds and the bees are dying. Climate Change is confusing migration for birds, the forests are being burned misplacing all kinds of species with nowhere to run. Noise levels are incredibly high making it difficult for birds and bees to navigate safe spaces to inhabit. The crops are being drowned in pesticides and poison to ward off pests. Those pests are just trying to survive. We are all just trying to survive. Birds are responsible pollinators, and disperse seeds to grow plants and vegetation. Bees are also pollinators which means they play a vital role in the ecosystem. A busy bee is that employee that works hard and never gets noticed until a ball is dropped. Balls are dropping everywhere and scientists are noticing.

There is a lot of information out there on the internet, and many sources report doom, gloom, and Apocolypse. The abundance of information is overwhelmingly paralyzing and stressful. There are days where I feel like I only know what I'm doing wrong. With all the knowledge available I hoped there would be a focus on strategy and expert advice in problem-solving. I'm not an expert, but I have done some research
.

Noise pollution is a rising concern in the news. Studies show that the amount of noise in everyday life contributes to several health issues in people, and have devastating consequences on wild animals. Mother Nature Network posted an article written by Russell Mclendon explaining that noise pollution is linked to stress, heart disease, and hearing impairment. The same can be revealed in other species. Animals rely on their sense of hearing to hunt, hide, simply navigate the environment. Too much noise can cause animals to starve. Bees and birds that are trying to escape excess noise have nowhere to hide because there are fewer spaces for them to retreat. They are forced to live in overpopulated areas with loud people and machines making it difficult to find food and pollinate. Bees are facing a similar problem. Animals depend on mating calls to reproduce and maintain the population. The constant thrashing and hum of the industrial world are drowning out those calls. In a world that never seems to stop, we have to find a way to settle down. By targeting the biggest noisemakers and using science and technology to reduce the sound produced, a significant change can boost the environment. "Technology For A Quieter America" was posted in 2010. The chapter highlighted the largest contributors to noise. Airplanes, Factories, and traffic cause the most noise on a consistent basis. Our focus should be ensuring that offices or factories are built with noise in mind. Quieter machines used in production, soundproofing technology that contains sound in the space. Loud factories usually provide noise-canceling headphones for its employees however, the noise still exists. Airplanes with engines that operate silently. Semi-trucks or other large vehicles are disruptive and can be manufactured to operate as a hybrid. The focus begins with the biggest culprits to make a more significant change.

 

To provide an analogy to illustrate my next point, let's use the Republicans and the Democrats. The Republicans represent a father, while the Democrats represent a mother. They are constantly arguing, debating, and frustrated with each other. The environment is the child just trying to get a word in edgewise. The environment just wants a sliver of attention because its parents are missing the point. Friends and family members notice the problem, represented by the Libertarian and the Green party, but their voices remain unheard. If the future can generate a quieter space for all of us we might finally be able to hear what the environment needs most—our attention.

I'm not the only one who thinks so. Adam Welz wrote an article posted with Yale360 called "Listening to Nature…" which focused on bioacoustics and tropical ecologist Mitch Aide. Most commonly research is done by physically hiking through and collecting samples, photos or by using video equipment to capture animal behavior and patterns. Aide explains that cameras and physical presence are disruptive and invasive. An alternative solution is to use audio equipment. Microphones and sound recorders are cheaper to buy and can capture a wider range of species. The article explains that a camera lens can only see a set amount of area, and then be remotely controlled to rotate. This movement can scare nearby animals and cause them to scurry. Sound equipment is smaller, less obvious, and can hear much further than a camera lens can see. Through sound, a better visual can be illustrated, whereas right now we are only seeing part of the picture restrained through vision alone. Planting these devices is quick, and the animals are not disturbed. Research can identify the calls of different bird species, or listen and locate where bees are building hives. Through research, more answers can be found.

 

Farmers are making more adjustments to their crops. Some are producing traditional harvests along with crops of bees and other threatened insects. A farmer based in Michigan has agreed to plant wildflowers between his blueberry crops. The intended result is to provide food for pollinators. According to the report in Yale360 pollinating insects are responsible for 75% of the crops used in human consumption, which includes bees. Richard Rant has noticed success as far as the experiment goes. The wildflowers are said to be full of insects such as bees, beetles, ladybugs, and wasps. The crops of blueberries are doing well because the pollinators that feast on the blueberries are being managed by a predatory beetle living in the wildflowers. Because the crop is doing so well, the farmer has had to use fewer pesticides. Fewer pesticides mean less poisoned birds and bees and less starving organisms. More crops grow due to pollination, and less money is spent on preventing pests from ruining crops. Farmers aren't the only ones fighting for a change. Homeowners are being offered incentives to plant safe places for birds and bees to find food or shelter.

 

Mary Jo Dilonardo reports that Minnesota will pay you for a lawn that is made to sustain bees. Currently, homeowners can apply for funding to build a lawn for bees. Some homeowners are eligible for $500 to remodel their lawn and save some bees. For those of us outside of Minnesota, the article encourages people to stop using chemical lawn treatments that are harmful to pollinators such as birds, bees, and butterflies. Naked patches of soil should be left alone as they make excellent spots for bees to nest. A whole yard might be too much of a commitment and therefore Dilonardo mentions that a small corner can still benefit the bees in a big way. There are ways to force change, and at least make an effort. As a society, we must think big and act small.

 

The world is much bigger than you or me. So much of the news is perpetuating this crisis that is real but without resolution. The planet is a resource and without change, we won't have a planet to live on. Humans include a massive population which means we can influence huge change. Collectively do what is better for the environment, and survive. I don't want you to continue to read the fear and trauma that bleeds all over the screens. There is room for improvement, and as your mother, I believe in you. You're the future, clean this room, and force a change.


 

Ashley Aker

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